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Grace United Methodist Church

COVID-19 Updates and Responses

 

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UPDATE FROM MAY 27, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
This week in worship, we will conclude our Unafraid sermon series by examining the strange relationship that existed between King Saul and David before he became King.  Saul was the first King of Israel, and he enjoyed a great deal of success during his reign.  He won battles, united tribes, and grew to be quite powerful.  Like all Kings in Israel’s history, he had a prophet through which God communicated God’s desires for the nation of Israel.  For Saul, it was the prophet Samuel.  Samuel would tell Saul of God’s wishes, and Saul would carry it out.  This relationship worked in everyone’s favor, but at one point Saul disobeyed God.  For that action, God through Samuel anointed David as Saul’s replacement.  Saul became extremely jealous of David going so far as to try and have him killed on a few different occasions.  On Sunday in worship, we’ll spend some time talking about how it feels when something lets us down.  Whether it is a person, a mentor, or an ideal, when we look up to someone and that person disappoints us, it can be very difficult – even heartbreaking.  We’ll talk about how, even in the midst of grief and disappointment, David kept his faith in God.
 
Looking forward, I want to let you know about a few things.  1) Beginning on June 14th, I’ll begin a new sermon series called, “Just three things.”  This will be a three week series during which we’ll examine the three general rules of our church, “Do Good, Do No Harm, and Stay in Love with God.”  I’m looking forward to this series as these rules will guide our decision when to open our church back up to hosting in person worship again.  2) On June 7th, we will participate in virtual Holy Communion.  In order to prepare for this, you’ll need to have bread and grape juice.  At the church, we use Kings Hawaiian bread with Welch’s grape juice but this isn’t special.  You can use any bread, and while I’d prefer grape juice to be used, you can substitute any liquid you’d like.  Remember, we believe that the bread and the cup are merely symbols of God’s love for us.  We believe that the bread and the cup are outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace.  I’m hungry to participate in our sacraments and looking forward to celebrating it with you!  3) If you have a Facebook account, be sure to tune in to the church’s Facebook account every Wednesday at 11 AM.  I’ll be doing a devotional and I’d love for you to join us!
 
See you this week in worship!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 
 
 

UPDATE FROM MAY 20, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
This week in worship, we will continue the sermon series called, “Unafraid” by examining the fascinating tale of three Biblical characters with funny names – Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego.  These three leaned on their face in the face of a certain and painful death.  We’ll learn a bit about them and their context, and see what we can apply to our own lives and our own situations.  I’m really looking forward to it!
 
Now, a financial update:  As many of you know, Grace Weekday School provides substantial financial support to our church.  It is, in fact, one of the many reasons we decided to open a preschool.  However, Grace Weekday School has been closed and without tuition revenue since Friday, March 13 – a period of 66 days as of the writing of this column.  Since they’ve been without tuition revenue, the church has gone without the financial support we budgeted on for 2020.  The church is beginning to struggle financially and I’m hopeful that you can help us close the gap.  The Finance committee has been working hard to make sure that we are able to meet every obligation, but the longer we’re in this lockdown, the more difficult it becomes.  We have reserves, but they are fast dwindling.  Many of you give and give generously, however, if you are able please consider a second mile gift right now.  You can click here to make that gift.  Your help is greatly appreciated as we navigate these uncertain waters.
 
I can’t wait to “see” you this week in worship at the “the fiery furnace won’t stop us” place!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin  
 

UPDATE FROM MAY 13, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
This week in worship, we’ll continue our Unafraid sermon series by examining the plight of the Israelites.  The Israelites have quite a complicated history so rather than focusing on every battle or every miracle, we’ll examine them from a 30,000 foot view and talk about their wanderings in the desert in general terms.  Have you felt like you are in the desert?  Certain that you are going SOMEWHERE but totally uncertain when you’ll arrive or how long it will take to get there?  That’s how the Israelites must have felt.  In fact, we know that they were impatient and in the midst of their impatience and desire to know where they were headed, they sometimes did things that boggle the mind.  Perhaps we haven’t done anything unwise during this lockdown, but we can certainly understand the angst and the unrest that they felt during their journey through the desert.  We’ll address this and more this Sunday!
 
I want to make you aware of another format through which you can access worship.  Most of you are aware that we offer worship through Facebook Live and a Livestream through our website.  But did you know we also archive all of our worship services on YouTube?  Every Sunday at 11:30 AM, our entire worship experience is uploaded to YouTube.  That way, if you miss worship for one reason or another, you can watch it later.  Click here to see our YouTube channel, and catch up on all the great children’s sermons, music, and sermons that you may have missed!
 
I hope to see you in the “all this wandering will lead us somewhere” place!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 

UPDATE FROM MAY 6, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
I hope this finds you well and weathering this lockdown ok!  I know that some businesses are beginning to operate, but I want to encourage you to continue staying indoors for as long as it is feasible.  It is annoying, frustrating but I think still necessary.  Meanwhile, we’ll continue offering online worship opportunities.  Although there is a good chance we’ll be able to return to worship in June, the staff is currently exploring ways to continue offering online worship for those of you are who are high risk or won’t feel comfortable returning just yet.  Remember that we have decided to suspend “in person” worship through the month of May.
 
This week in worship we’ll continue our sermon series called, “Unafraid” by examining another Biblical character who faced adversity and uncertainty with bravery with the help of sound advice and her faith in God.  The subject of this Sunday’s sermon will be Esther.  I want to invite you to read through the book of Esther this week to refamiliarize yourself with her amazing story, and actions.
 
Finally, I want to say an early Happy Mother’s Day to all of our mothers, soon to be mothers and mother figures out there!  You are very much appreciated.
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin

 

UPDATE FROM APRIL 29, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
Don’t forget that we have decided to suspend in person worship through the month of May.  My hope is that we’ll be able to gather together again on the first Sunday of June.  Even though the governor has allowed churches to allow people to return on a limited basis while observing social distancing practices, our Bishop has recommended online only worship through May.  I’ll listen to his wise counsel during this time and as soon as it is safe, we’ll return to our normal worship habits.
 
This week during worship, we’ll continue in our series “Unafraid” by examining the long and complicated life of Joseph from the Old Testament.  His story is found in Genesis chapters 37-50 if you can refresh your memory.  I know you have time!  ☺  We’ll talk about how Joseph was faithful even in dark times, and we’ll focus in on how Joseph was patient during his tough times and the biggest thing he did was nothing!  He just sort of let things around him run its course and, though this is never specifically said in scripture, he seemed to have the belief that, “In the end, it’s all gonna be ok.  If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.”  Now obviously we have to be careful with how we define “ok” because already the virus has killed more than 55,000 Americans and infected over 1M.  Ok for us very well may include the death of a friend or loved one, but eventually, things will return to normal.  Even a new normal that might include new social practices and the absence of a person.  But this will run its course, and eventually we’ll find ourselves at our favorite restaurant telling stories of what we did during the great lockdown of 2020.
 
I hope to see you this week in the “normal will return one day” place.
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 

UPDATE FROM APRIL 22, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
This week in worship, we will revisit a sermon series called, “Unafraid.”  Over the next few weeks, we’ll examine several characters in the Bible who, like us, lived in uncertain times or faced uncertain futures.  We’ll learn about how they were able to use their faith in God as a salve for their fear and we’ll ask questions such as, “What can we learn from these characters?” and, “What in their life can I use in mine?”  From Esther who would become Queen, to King David & King Saul, to the brave trio of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego, and finally the Apostle Paul, we’ll learn from the example they set on how to lean into our faith when we aren’t quite sure what’s next.
 
Don’t forget that we’ve suspended in-person worship services through at least the end of April, and it is my expectation that we’ll likely extend that through May. However, we will continue to monitor the situation and be as vigilant as possible to keep everyone as healthy as we can!  I miss you, but I hope you are enjoying the online worship services that our staff works so hard to put together each week.
 
I can’t wait to “see” you this Sunday in worship.
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin

 

UPDATE FROM APRIL 15, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
Well, happy Easter!  I know, I know, Easter was last Sunday.  But actually Easter is a whole season and we are right at the very beginning of that festive season.  I hope you got to join us for online worship as we sang, “Christ the Lord is Risen today!”  While Easter worship was very different than usual in that we couldn’t gather together, it was still a lot of fun!
 
But now what?  We’ve spent the last 6 weeks looking forward to and talking about one thing:  the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.  What do we do with all this energy we spent anticipating the glorious event?  Well, we’ll spend this Sunday talking about that precise thing.  What’s next?
 
Also, beginning Sunday, April 26th I’ll start a sermon series called, “Unafraid.”  I preached a series with this same title about three years ago, but given the unprecedented times we’re facing together I thought it might be a good idea to revisit this series to help us remember how our faith can help us face fear and uncertainty with strength. 
 
As a reminder, we have suspended regular worship services through the end of the month and it is my expectation that we won’t be able to meet for a few weeks beyond that.  Hopefully, this will soon be behind us.  Please stay healthy and safe!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 

UPDATE FROM APRIL 8, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
We continue to move forward during this unprecedented time!  A country song that was popular when I was younger states that, “The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes.”  And so since we can’t together in-person to worship, we have shifted our worship service to an online format.  This week, we will have DVD’s and CD’s available so let us know if you would like us to mail you a few sermons, and we’d be glad to do so. 
 
A few matters of importance:
  1. Don’t forget to continue your giving!  With Grace Weekday School shut down for the time being, we are without one of our biggest sources of revenue for a few weeks.  If you are able to step up your giving for a short period of time, it would be most appreciated.  You can give in three ways:
    1. online at www.graceintheheights.org/give,
    2. you can text GraceUMCHeights to 77977
    3. OR drop a check in the mail!
  2. This week is Holy Week!  Normally, we would have a Holy Thursday service, a Good Friday service, a sunrise service, and our regular 10:45 AM worship.  However this year, due to the lockdown, we will only have a Good Friday service and Easter worship.  Good Friday will go live at 6:30 PM on Friday the 10th.   To view the live stream service, login to our website at https://graceintheheights.online.church OR visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GraceInTheHeights/Our Easter Sunday worship service will go live at both places on Sunday the 12th at 10:45 AM.
  3. As an update, I have decided to continue with online only worship services through the end of April.  If something drastically changes between now and then (and I pray that it does!), we can easily adapt to that.  But as of right now, plan to join us online through the end of April.
  4. Finally, looking forward to the near future in worship, on April 26th I will begin a new sermon series called, “Unafraid.”  You may remember that I preached a sermon series with this title a little over two years ago, but I thought that given the times we’re facing, it was worth revisiting.  How can we face the world unafraid?  We’ll spend several weeks talking through how our faith can be a salve for our fear.  I hope you can join us!
 
I hope to “see” you this Friday and then again on Easter Sunday as we celebrate the Risen Christ!
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 

UPDATE FROM APRIL 1, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

 
Goodness, this coronavirus is really putting a wrinkle in our worship plans!  However, we will continue to move forward in the best way we can.  This week was to be Palm Sunday which is one of my very favorite Sundays.  To see all the children joyously waving their palms brings my heart such delight!  But, our new normal dictates that we worship God together from a distance.  Thank goodness for the technology that makes all this possible.  There have been some mixed messages about when we’ll be able to gather again, but I don’t feel comfortable getting us together right now, and that will likely be the case for many weeks more.  As soon as it is feasible and safe, we will gather together.
 
A few updates:
 
  1. This week’s online worship service will be expanded to include music and a children’s sermon.  I’m excited to include these new items, and hope that you will be able to join us!  Our staff is working hard during this strange time to try and deliver God’s grace and mercy to you through technology.  Don’t forget to login to Facebook, or visit our website each Sunday at 10:45 to experience online worship.
  2. Staff transition - Many of you will remember that our Director of Music Ministries, Justin Langham, was supposed to be studying aboard through July.  To fill his extended absence, we brought Interim Director Mark Maretto onboard. Due to the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, Justin’s academic program was suspended and he has returned to the United States much earlier than anticipated.  While this is not the way we had hoped to welcome him back, we’re glad he is safe and he will assume his staff duties immediately.  Once we’re able to gather together once again, we’ll invite Mark back to worship so that we can properly thank him for his diligent work.
  3. Finally, I miss you all so much!  Please let me know how you’re doing and how you’re passing the time during the quarantine. 
 
I can’t wait to “see” you this Sunday!
 
In Christ,
Collin
 

UPDATE FROM MARCH 25, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Phillipi, "I thank my God every time I remember you."  I've been thanking God a lot these days because I've been remembering and thinking about each of you a lot recently.  We certainly are living in unprecedented times!

A few things to remember about our church:

1) There is Children's Sunday School happening each Sunday at 10 AM via Zoom.  You can access that by clicking here.  The meeting ID is 371 842 769 and the password is grace.  Contact Mary Gossett for more information at mary@graceintheheights.org

2) Worship is hosted online each Sunday at 10:45 AM in two formats.  You can access it on Facebook by visiting our Facebook page here.  Or you can visit our website and click on the "Live Stream" button at the upper right-hand corner.  If you worship with us via our website, you can submit your attendance by clicking on "Connection Card" and if you worship via Facebook sign-in by simply commenting that you are present in the comments section.  If you missed worship last week, you can visit our YouTube page and catch up!

3) Please, PLEASE give!  Our church is doing pretty well financially right now but on top of our normal ministry expenses, we still have payroll obligations, insurance payments, utility payments and so much more.  The Finance Team is working to figure where we can cut expenses but the fact of the matter is that we are totally dependent on you and your generous gifts.  Click here to make a gift online, or feel free to drop a check into the mail.

Please let me know how each of you are doing.  I miss seeing you each week!

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Collin

 

 

UPDATE FROM MARCH 20, 2020 REGARDING LIVE STREAMING

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

I wanted to share an update that I put on Facebook yesterday about our new online worship opportunity via our website.  Click here to watch.

Hope to "see" you in worship on Sunday!

In Christ,
Collin

 

UPDATE FROM MARCH 18, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

I've told my kids several times over the past few days that they should try and take mental pictures of this time because they will remember it always.  The fact of the matter is that this is an unprecedented time for all of us and we're making decisions as best we can.  Recently, the CDC recommended that all people avoid groups of 10 or more, and that certainly includes our worship service.  I've decided to suspend in-person worship through April 5th.  I will continue to host a live sermon on Sunday mornings that will be posted to our website and in various other places.  You can access our new live-streaming service by clicking here, or by visiting www.graceintheheights.org and clicking on "Live Stream" in the upper right-hand corner.

It is of vital importance that, as long as you are able, you continue your generous giving.  We still have financial obligations that must be met and while we have healthy reserves, we'd rather not use them right now.  As of now, the church office remains open so if you don't give online, please drop your check in the mail.  To make your gift online, click here or visit www.graceintheheights.org/give.

Finally, talking to your kids or grandkids about the outbreak is important and our Director of Family Ministries wrote a piece of how to do that.  You can find that here.

I have had several offers from members to help those who might need assistance with groceries, errands, and other everyday chores that are now made a little more difficult.  If you need assistance, please let me know and our church family will be glad to help!

Finally, we are aware that not everyone has an email address or a smartphone/computer. Help us figure out who they are!  If you know of a church member who hasn't been receiving our digital updates, please let me know so that we can put together some mail specifically for them.  Help us reach everyone!

Stay healthy and follow the guidelines that the CDC is recommending so that we can welcome back normal times!

In Christ,
Collin

 

 

UPDATE FROM MARCH 13, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!

I wanted to take some time to update you on where our church stands on the COVID-19 outbreak.  I continue to be in prayer for all of us, and hope that you are staying healthy.  After consultation with church leadership, after attending a conference call with Houston Methodist Hospital, and because the safety of all our members is of paramount importance, worship for this Sunday, March 15th is cancelled.  It is only out of an abundance of caution that we make this decision, but with other area churches and schools suspending operations, it is the best choice right now.

A few matters of importance:

1) How can we help you?  If you are a person in the higher risk category and have avoided going out into public, let your church family help.  We can organize other members to run errands, pick up groceries, deliver food etc.  Our church is a family so let's pull together during this uncertain time!

2) As you know, our church depends on your giving and even though we won't be worshipping together this week, we will still have financial obligations to keep.  If you haven't already, please sign up for online giving immediately so that we can stay in good financial standing.  Visit www.graceintheheights.org/give to make sure your gift is received in a timely manner.

3) I'll be live-streaming a sermon at 10:45 AM on Sunday morning from our Facebook page.  Interested in watching?  Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GraceInTheHeights/, and log on around 10:45!  We're looking into other options to livestream, but Facebook is the easiest right now.

In Christ,
Collin

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Grace United Methodist Church
Address
1245 Heights Blvd
Houston, TX 77008
Office Hours
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